5 Things You Didn’t Know About Pangolins

Pangolins are one of the shyest.. Wait, how much do you know about them?

1) Its name means “something that rolls up”



Pangolins roll up into a ball when they are threatened. So, it is no surprise that the word “pangolin”, which originates from the Malay word “pengguling”, literally means “something that rolls up”!

Do not underestimate at their ability to protect themselves though. Their body armour is so hard, even big cats like tigers have difficulty biting through their scales!


2) They are the most trafficked animal in the world.


This might be hard to believe, but one pangolin is snatched from the wild every five minutes. The primary threat to pangolins in Asia, and increasingly in Africa, is illegal hunting and poaching for illicit international trade, which is driven by market demand in East Asia. Over a million pangolins are estimated to have been illegally traded in the last 10 years for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

Illegal pangolin trade takes place everywhere! This even includes social media channels like Facebook. The negotiations can take place entirely online, and the traders and buyers do not even meet.


3) A pangolin’s tongue can be longer than its body.



Pangolins have no teeth. They ‘chew’ with gravel and keratinous spines located inside the stomach. As they eat ants, they also swallow small rocks that smash against the ants to digest their food! Well, they definitely need a little bit of help from the 70 million ants they consume per year right?


4) Pangolins are now protected from all international trade.

Manis tetradactyla Long-tailed pangolin Heavily hunted despite legal protection Minkébé National Park, Gabon
Manis tetradactyla Long-tailed pangolin Heavily hunted despite legal protection Minkébé National Park, Gabon



As of last year, countries at CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) have agreed to list all eight species of pangolins (four Asian and four African) to Appendix I. This means that pangolins get full protection against international trade. Find out more here.


5) Pangolins are native to Singapore!


You probably didn’t know this, but there are pangolins in Singapore! The Sunda Pangolin can still be found in our forests. However with increased development pushing into our forests, they are increasingly threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation.

To celebrate this shy creature, you can head down to ArtScience Museum to see them in virtual-action at the Into The Wild exhibition! Admission is free for all so don’t say bojio.

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1 Comment

  • Nayana Sapre, January 20, 2018 @ 10:03 am Reply

    A good read! Today, I got to know something more about Pangolin. Thanks.

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